CancerNetwork® sat down with Fredrik Schjesvold, MD, PhD, at the 2021 International Myeloma Workshop to talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the care of multiple myeloma at the Oslo Myeloma Center .
At the 2021 International Myeloma Workshop, CancerNetwork® spoke with Fredrik Schjesvold, MD, PhD, founder and head of the Oslo Myeloma Center, about the precautions that were initially put in place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and how his facility’s strategy has evolved over time.
Initially, we had a study hold for some time in most studies, but we ended that quite fast after considering that myeloma is more dangerous than COVID, and we should provide the best possible treatment to our patients. Besides that, we haven't done much with our approach to the patients, except not being allowed to come in if they’re sick, using masks all the time, trying to keep the distance, [and] trying to have good hygiene…. We did see a reduction in referred patients from other hospitals. [As] we are a referral hospital, we get a lot of patients from other regions, and it seemed like that was less popular in this period—to travel to our center instead of just using their local hospital. I think that's probably understandable, but I think that’s over now. In the beginning, people were stressed, doctors were stressed, and patients were stressed. I know that many [patients with] myeloma have more or less locked themselves indoors. We also know that [patients with] myeloma do not respond as well to vaccines as others, so it’s sort of valid but you cannot live like that. [Patients] need to get on with their lives and start to behave more normal, and I think that’s what's happening now.
One interesting thing is to see [a decline] in other infections—[to see] how [many] common infections in society we can, not get rid of, but see a lot less of if hygienic measures and distance measures are taken. Whether that’s worth it is a different question, of course.